You can't help but feel sorry for the Expos. Their superstar is hurt and they still don't have a home for 2004.
Sit in the outfield seats at Hiram Bithorn, and you'll probably be rewarded with a souvenir.
At least Montreal has some idea of when it will get Vlad back. As for the team's future, who knows? But with each passing day, the likelihood of the Expos having to return to Puerto Rico next season increases. And that's a shame.
Baseball probably has made more money with its Puerto Rico experiment. But it's come at the expense of a brutal travel schedule -- the Vagabonds are in the midst of a 26-day, two-country road trip that will take them to seven different cities before they return to Montreal -- and actual baseball scores that would make Coors Field blush.
The Hiram Bithorn Stadium -- or Home Run Bithorn as it has been dubbed -- is a joke. With cozy dimensions of 399 feet to center, 315 to left and 313 to right, it's making guys such as Jeff DaVannon look like sluggers. DaVannon, who had all of 11 career homers entering Puerto Rico, hit four of the Angels' 15 home runs in their three-game series.
In all, there have been 63 homers -- nearly double the major league average on the mainland -- and an average of 11.6 runs (compared to 7.9 in Montreal's non-San Juan games) in the first 16 games at the ballpark
And for what? The crowds in San Juan have been decent -- an average of 14,248 after 16 games -- given the economic situation in Puerto Rico. And despite three sellouts against the Rangers, the Expos didn't draw more than a Devil Rays-eque 10,600 against the defending champion Angels. At Olympic Stadium, the Expos are averaging 11,338.
Baseball says it doesnt want to make a hasty and regrettable longterm decision by relocating the Expos too quickly, and that's fine. But in the short term, the Expos' chances of any success may be left in Customs.